Thanks to the doctoral thesis "Led lighting for indoor cultivation of leafy vegetables and herbs" by student Giuseppina Pennisi, prepared under the supervision of professors at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT - Spain) and defended at the Italian University of Turin, now lettuce and basil are successfully grown vertically in climate-controlled greenhouses through a combination of red and blue light from LED lamps.
As part of her research, carried out within the Mediterranean Vegetable and Floriculture group of the UPCT, hydroponics racks were used with separate lighting for each plank. Pennisi determined the ideal combination of red and blue light, light intensity and light periods to maximize the lettuce and basil productions with the most efficient use of resources, says dissertation co-promoter Juan Fernández, of the Plant Growth department.
Vertical cultivation, or Plan Factory, is an R&D concept that Spain has been focusing on for several years in the context of the EU Horizon 2020 program. Such crops aim towards sustainable and responsible horticulture with a lower consumption of raw materials. The technology is designed for places where there is little space to produce food, such as Japan, where it is currently being implemented on a large scale. In Spain, it is being tested as an experiment in the province of Murcia by the Novagric company.